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Increased risk of pneumonia for people with COPD who take inhaled corticosteroids

Increased risk of pneumonia for people with COPD who take inhaled corticosteroids

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has confirmed that people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who treat their condition with inhaled corticosteroids are at increased risk of pneumonia, but do not recommend changing the way these medicines are used.

Corticosteroids are widely used in the EU to treat COPD and are usually inhaled (breathed in) using an inhaler device. The EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee has reviewed the evidence for the risk of pneumonia (an infection of the lungs) for people with COPD using medicines containing inhaled corticosteroids.

The EMA is recommending that the information on these medications is updated to show the risk, but that there should be no change to the way these medicines are used.

The Committee’s view is that the benefits of inhaled corticosteroids continue to outweigh their risks, but that doctors and patients should be aware of the signs and symptoms of pneumonia. They also warn that this can be difficult, as the signs of pneumonia can be similar to those of a flare-up, or exacerbation, of COPD.

Further details, including advice for patients and healthcare professionals, will be published in due course.

Read the press release.

Read our information page on acute lower respiratory infections, which includes pneumonia.